Dear Alex,

You are over 23 weeks along now- the size of a grapefruit. WOW. Time is really steamrolling by now, which on the one hand is great because of course we are dying to meet you: Alex the little person & not Alex the abstract concept in my belly…

… but on the other hand, as time goes by and the pregnancy progresses, there is definitely an alarming level of fear & anxiety building up in my head. Feeling you move so much, seeing all these ultrasound pictures of you, working on your nursery, etc. makes all of it feel more & more “real” everyday. And it is so great, absolutely everything Dad & I have been looking forward to & dreaming of for so many years, but finally standing on the edge of that cliff we’re about to jump over is also– to be honest– kind of terrifying.

I’m actually not at all afraid of childbirth itself: I think that between my strength/willpower, Dad’s support & modern medicine I should be able to handle that just fine. What I’m really afraid of is what happens after we bring you home from the hospital. Being 100% responsible for your tiny little life is a huge job, and something that both Dad & I have absolutely zero experience in. I didn’t even do much babysitting growing up, and the little bit I did was not with infants. I just want to be able to do right by you, my son, who I love so very much already. And with such a fragile little being, I think there’s a lot I can screw up. :-\

So those are my open, honest feelings about it at the moment. I want these letters to you to be a true snapshot of what this process was really like for us– the good, the bad, & the ugly… or in this case, the crazy! Haha. And the truth is that these are normal feelings that all new parents have, and hopefully if you ever have children of your own someday (OMG I cannot even remotely fathom that concept right now as I write this) you’ll be able to read these letters and know that it’s okay to feel this way. It doesn’t mean that I am not absolutely ecstatic to be bringing you into this world, to be expanding our little family & sharing my life with you. I feel more and more of a connection with you everyday, and have loved you from the moment I saw that barely there line on the pee stick almost 20 weeks ago. That will never change. These thoughts & feelings I’m sharing with you today are really just about my own insecurities.

My method of combating these feelings are the same things I always do with my fears of the unknown: books, videos, more books, classes, internet research, and oh yeah– MORE BOOKS. 😉 As they say, knowledge is power! Haha. But I know that there’s really no manual for this crazy adventure I’m about to take… and that is what is really scary. Giving up control is something that has always been very tough for me, and I really don’t have a choice here– all I can do is try my hardest to be the best mom I can be, and the rest is in God’s hands. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that He will do what is best for all of us.

I should quickly point out that today’s letter does not in anyway represent what Dad is feeling. With the exception of the bleeding incident at 6 weeks, Dad has been very much “Joe Cool” throughout this entire pregnancy. Truthfully, Dad tends to internalize feelings of fear/anxiety, so he is probably experiencing more of this than he lets on. But he says all the time how confident he is that we’re going to be great parents, and that there are people out there much less responsible than us who have managed to pull it off (which is a solid point I suppose). He is, as always, my rock that keeps me grounded when I start to let the neurosis carry me away. Don’t know what I would do without him. 🙂

Now that I think about it, we are long overdue for another “interview” with Dad! Maybe I will work on that for next week. Something for you to look forward to, little man! Until then…

All my love,

Getting busy

Dear Alex,

I am super late writing to you this week, and now you’re really closer to 22 1/2 weeks along, over the size of a papaya! I’ve had a lot going on both at home & work over the past several days… Nana and Grump came to visit this past weekend. Nana & I spent Saturday working on your nursery, while Dad & Grump did some much-needed organizing out in the shed. Overall a very fun and productive weekend. Your nursery is turning out really well so far! Since we’re so close to finishing up the decorating, I think I’ll wait to write & post pictures about it.

Then on Monday morning I went back to the doctor’s office for the follow-up ultrasound to check on your stomach. It went really well, and you were very cooperative– the doctor was able to get the shots she needed almost as soon as she put the wand on my belly. She explained the issue to me much more clearly than the nurse did on the phone a couple weeks ago: apparently by this point in the pregnancy you are practicing eating/digesting by swallowing fluid & then peeing it out… they like to get a picture of the fluid in the stomach to confirm that you are doing this properly. However, if they don’t time the scan just right (i.e. if you’ve just peed out all the fluid), then the stomach will be empty. Rather than making us wait until you had swallowed more fluid, they opted to just have us come back another time. Luckily this morning you had plenty of fluid in your stomach & the doc said everything looked great. She did another quick check of the heart (heartbeat was nice & strong) and brain, took a couple of pictures for me to take home, and we were good to go! It went very quickly. Here is my favorite shot:

These skeletal face shots always crack me up! Apparently you weren’t interested in getting a picture of your profile taken– you wanted to look right at the camera. 😉 And I love that your little hand with all 5 fingers is so clear in this picture! Needless to say, Dad & I are both overjoyed and extremely relieved that you are healthy and seem to be doing very well in there.

The rest of this week has been chock-full of big meetings at work, all over town. During one of these meetings I had my first instance of a stranger asking me “when are you due?” It was an older lady and before I could answer she followed up with “pretty soon?” … which makes me think I must look huge, haha. You be the judge:

Another acquaintance at work that I see every day but don’t actually chat with much (she’s an administrative assistant for another team) came running up to me this afternoon too and, while gesturing towards my belly, was like “how did I not notice this before?!” And I definitely feel bigger… getting a lot more aches & pains associated with the growing belly, and am more easily worn out (but still not as bad as my first trimester!). So I guess while I’ve been busy with home & work stuff, you’ve been busy growing like a weed! And I can feel that you are very busy with all the squiggling around you’re doing in there. It is so neat to feel so many of your movements throughout the day, and they are definitely getting stronger, but still not quite strong enough for Dad to feel from the outside yet.

Well, I think that’s enough for this week. Until next time, keep growing little man! 🙂

All my love,

Vague Messages

Dear Alex (!),

It is so cool to finally get to address these letters to you, specifically, by name. You are over 21 weeks along now, and the size of a pomegranate according to my sources… honestly the fruit size comparison is getting confusing to me. Last week you were a banana, & I think a banana is longer than a pomegranate? At least you are big enough now that I have an easier time envisioning your size without the fruit comparison (approximately 10.5 inches long & 12.7 ounces, if you were wondering ;-)). It’s funny, I’m supposed to be getting to the point where you’re growing more rapidly, but I feel like my belly size hasn’t changed that much in the last couple of weeks:

One thing that has been a big development, though, is the frequency and distinctiveness of your movements. I feel you move much more often now (although some days are more active than others), your movements are more clearly “pokes” compared to the “flutters” they once were, and I can predict times when I’m most likely to feel movement. For example, I find that you almost always move around a little bit right after I eat or pee– it’s like you’re celebrating the occasion (yay nourishment! yay relief of bladder squishing me!). Haha. I also tend to feel you more late at night or when I’ve been sitting still for awhile. Perhaps it’s just that when I’m up and moving around, my focus is elsewhere so I don’t notice the movement as much. The other night we had our first little “interaction” of sorts: I would poke my belly, and within a second or two you would poke me back in the same spot. It only lasted a few “turns” but it was still so neat! 🙂 Dad is still anxiously awaiting the day when he can finally feel your movements from the outside, but for now he really enjoys me telling him about it.

Last Thursday, a few days after the anatomy scan, I came home from work to find a message on the answering machine from the OB-GYN’s office. It just said “please call us, we need to schedule you for a sonogram.” …. I was so confused, since we’d just done that a few days prior. My immediate conclusion was that something must be wrong and that was why they wanted to take another look at it. Of course by then their office was closed for the day, so I had to wait one terribly anxious night to find out what their message meant. This also happened to be a night that Dad was in class, so I was here agonizing over it all by myself. Pregnant lady hormones were in full swing & I had a complete meltdown, alternately sobbing and praying aloud that you are alright in there. Eventually I was able to calm down with the help of the ladies in my online birth month club, who pointed out that it was much more likely that some of the pictures didn’t come out clear enough & for the reviewing doctor’s liking. For some reason this possibility hadn’t dawned on me, I guess my mind just jumped to the worst-case scenario.

Anyway, once I was able to get a hold of the OB-GYN office the next morning, the nurse told me that (and she was just reading the notes of the reviewing doctor, so she wasn’t super detailed) it appeared in the pictures that your stomach wasn’t full enough (?). She said that however, because all of the other organs looked good and measured correctly, they think it’s just that the stomach pictures didn’t turn out well. She assured me that they think everything is fine and it is nothing to worry about, but they want to get better pictures of your stomach to be on the safe side. Dad made the point later that the one time during the anatomy scan that the doctor was having trouble getting pictures, it was when she was trying to get the stomach pictures… she had me flip on my side, jiggle my belly, etc. to try to get you in a better position to take them, but I guess she wasn’t able to get what they needed after all. So I will be going back & getting to see your handsome self again exactly 1 week from today! Dad unfortunately won’t be able to go this time since he has to work, but hopefully I can bring home some pictures to show him. I’m so happy at that we’ll get another peak at you in there, but the reasoning behind it makes me a bit nervous. I hope it really is just the picture quality issue, and that everything is okay with your little tummy!

Well, that’s probably enough for this week. I will be sure to wait until after next Monday’s appointment to write again so that I can include the results of this second scan (assuming they’re able to give me a definitive answer right away). Until then, little man… we love you so much! Keep growing strong in there! 🙂

All my love,

Half Baked (It’s a…)

Dear Baby Pacheco,

This week you’ve reached a huge milestone– 20 weeks is the halfway point! I can’t believe we are already over halfway through this pregnancy. It didn’t feel this way during the first trimester, but now the time is truly flying by. Not that I’m complaining really… pregnancy has been an interesting experience & these past few months have been some of the best of my life, but the endgame is having you in our arms come January. Dad & I were talking quite a bit this week about how we can’t wait to meet you “IRL” (in real life). 😉 Especially after seeing your sweet face on the 3D ultrasound last week and starting to feel you move around more often, I think we both are starting to feel a stronger connection to you as a little person, as our child who will be here in just a few short months. Earlier this week Dad & I were laying in bed together in the middle of the night. We both happened to be awake even though it was around 3am, and Dad reached over to hold me in his arms (despite the Snoogle, haha)… as we were laying there quietly together, I felt you move & thought about how it was really the three of us there, our little family all curled up together. It brought on such a strong wave of joy, love, & gratitude that, as cheesy as it sounds, I was brought to tears. You are such a blessing to us already! 🙂

Today we went to the OB-GYN for your “anatomy scan,” an ultrasound where they take lots of measurements to make sure all of your organs & such are developing properly. All went well & it was wonderful to see you again (although I must admit I’m spoiled after getting the 3D ultrasound, haha), and the ultrasound tech for this scan confirmed what we’d heard last week…

You are a boy! 😀 😀 😀 Dad & I were both very excited to hear this! Of course we would have been happy either way; the important thing is that you’re healthy & growing well in there… but I think Dad is especially tickled to have a son, and has been fantasizing about all the cool father-son things he wants to do with you someday. We are going to name you Alexander Todd (Todd is after Papa of course), and will call you Alex for short. It is so nice to finally have a concrete name to call you, instead of just “baby” or whatever fruit you are that week (for the record, this week you are the size of a banana!). Haha. I think this is another thing that has really strengthened our connection with you over the last week or so.

So now that we know you’re a boy, we can start preparing more for your arrival! We bought your nursery set & plan to paint the nursery a light blue next weekend when Nana & Grump come to visit (Nana loves painting so she’s going to help us with that). Dad & I also made a special piece of “art” to put above your crib:

We’re hoping to finish decorating the nursery over the next couple of months, before I get so big that I don’t feel like doing much. We also finished up our registry this week. I think the baby shower is going to be in early November, which will be here before we know it! The other big thing we did this week is start searching in earnest for a good childcare provider, since we’ll have to have someone watch you after I go back to work next May/June. Right now we are leaning towards a daycare center very close to our house– we took a tour there on Friday & were pretty impressed with them. They book up quickly though, so we’ll need to make a final choice within the next couple of weeks.

And that’s about it around here, although really it’s quite alot… we’ve had a very exciting couple of weeks! One more thing I want to share before I go though, as promised last week:

* Photos from the 3D ultrasound:
* Video from the 3D ultrasound session:

You can see on the video the moment where the tech points out that you are a boy. She said to us “imagine that you’re changing a diaper” to give us an idea of the point-of-view we were seeing, and as soon as she said that it was pretty obvious to me that there was something sticking out between your legs! 😉 The lights were off in the room to help us see the screen more clearly, so unfortunately I didn’t get to see Dad’s reaction when he first found out… but he was squeezing my foot the whole rest of the session, so I could tell how excited he was! Here is a photo from our anatomy scan today as well:

These pictures will probably be the last we get of you until after you’re born, unless something comes up that requires them to check on how you’re doing in there, so we will certainly treasure them during this last half of the pregnancy as we impatiently wait for your arrival. 😉 You are so handsome and perfect, and we love you so much! We really couldn’t be any happier or more proud of you. Keep growing, little Alex!

All my love,

What the heck is a Snoogle?!

Dear Baby Pacheco,

I think at this point I can’t really say anymore that I don’t “feel pregnant.” You are 19 weeks along (the size of a MANGO– wow!), and although I don’t feel nausea or things like that anymore the changes to my shape are taking their toll:

Hopefully at this point when people see me they realize I’m pregnant, haha. Exercise is getting harder because I don’t have the freedom of movement I used to & tire more easily, but I still try to shoot for 30 minutes of some sort of activity every day. The real struggle for me, however, has been sleep. I’ve never been the sort of person that sleeps soundly throughout the night anyway, but this not being allowed to sleep on my back stuff has been killing me! This week I finally broke down and invested in one of those “pregnancy pillows” that sort of forces you to sleep on your side. It’s called the Snoogle:

It definitely helps keep me on my side and is pretty cozy, but of course it takes some getting used to. Poor Dad doesn’t get as much room on his side of the bed anymore, but he’s been very sweet about giving me all the space I need. This is probably TMI (especially to read about your parents so my apologies in advance), but one pitfall with the Snoogle is that it really inhibits cuddling & such with the person in bed next to you. Again, poor Dad! :-X LOL.

I also feel what I’m much more confident is you moving around in there on a regular basis. Some movements are more obvious than others (i.e. clear “pokes”), but most of the time it feels like a soft fluttering in my lower abdomen. It comes & goes every few hours, I’d say I feel it at least 3 times a day & sometimes in the middle of the night. Dad keeps putting his hand on my belly in the hopes that he’ll feel something… I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he finally does! 🙂 My guess is it won’t happen for another few weeks or so.

So this week we ended up with a 3-day holiday weekend & nothing to do, so on a whim we decided to go to one of those 3D ultrasound places and get a little peek at how you’re doing & what you look like these days. Not only had we not seen you in 7 weeks, but the 3D images let us see so much more detail! We even got to take home over 50 images and a DVD of the whole session. This was my favorite 3D image:

You have such a sweet, adorable little face! One of the BEST things (and the reason I’m not sharing more of the pics/video) about the session was that we were able to find out your gender, clear as day! 😀 😀 We’re waiting until our anatomy scan with the OB-GYN to confirm before we post it online, but the technician was absolutely certain and after comparing our pictures with other examples online, there is not a doubt in my & Dad’s minds either. So exciting! That will be the biggest topic of next week’s post, I think.

And that’s a good place to leave off. They say when it comes to things like this, always leave them wanting more… I think I accomplished that this week! 😉 Until next time, little mango!

All my love,

A little tumble

Dear Baby Pacheco,

You are over 18 weeks along now, and about the size of a sweet potato. 🙂 Time is flying by! Over the weekend I tripped on a street curb while Dad & I were out walking Cody… luckily I just landed on my hands & knees, but of course any sort of fall is scary when you are pregnant. Between that & still not really being able to feel you moving around much yet, I’d psyched myself out enough to move my next check-up appointment to this morning (it was supposed to be Friday so just a few days earlier). Dad actually got to come with me since he’d strained his shoulder over the weekend & was taking the day off of work to rest it. Now that I think about it, I guess it was a weekend full of injuries! :-\

The appointment went really well. I weighed in & found that I’ve gained 2 lbs. since my last monthly appointment (3 lbs. overall since the start of my pregnancy), which the doctor said was right on track. The results of of my gestational diabetes test were perfect, and they told me that I will test for that again around 28 weeks. They did the usual urine sample & also a blood test to check for spinal bifida (? not sure if I’m spelling that right). Then Dad & I both got to hear your heartbeat for a few minutes. 🙂 It was nice & healthy at about 160 beats per minute! We could also hear you moving around a bit too. So overall everything looks great, which is quite a relief after being worried this weekend.

While we were there we also scheduled the anatomy scan, where we find out if you’re a boy or girl, for September 10th– exactly TWO WEEKS from today! We can’t wait! I wanted to schedule it earlier but the doctor won’t let anyone do it sooner than the 20 week point. Hopefully these next couple of weeks go by fast. When we got home we took my weekly belly picture:

Not really noticing much of a difference from last week, but I guess a sweet potato isn’t really that much bigger than an onion. Everything else feels about the same as well as far as symptoms go, or for me it’s really a lack thereof since I feel like my normal self most of the time… Just a bit tired by the end of the day. If only my office allowed mid-afternoon siestas! 😉

After taking a couple months’ mental break from educational pregnancy stuff to enjoy some fiction books, I recently started delving into the world of birthing, breastfeeding, & infant care literature. It’s led me to thinking a lot about what the birth experience is going to be like, or at least what I hope it will be like. This may be a lofty goal but I’m hoping that your birth will occur as naturally as possible, with as little medical “assistance” (epidural, etc.) as possible. Luckily the hospital I plan to give birth at is very supportive of this, and Dad is too. Hopefully with their help things will go smoothly when the time comes. I suppose I have plenty of time to think about this, but I am just too much of a planner not to think about it & prepare myself as much as possible. Not sure if you’ve picked up on this yet Baby Pacheco, but your mother is quite the worry wart! Hahaha

That’s pretty much it for now. Until next time, little sweet potato!

All my love,

Dream on

Dear Baby Pacheco,

I am a little behind this week, so now you are closer to 17 & 1/2 weeks (size of a large onion)…. we had such a busy weekend that I didn’t get to take my weekly belly picture until today:

And what a picture! As soon as I uploaded it and saw how far out my belly was I said “WHOA! When did that happen?!?!” To which Dad goes “How many times do I have to tell you that you’re pregnant? It’s been going on for awhile now!” Haha. In hindsight, I did notice that my last few pairs of regular pants are now unwearable without some sort of assistance via a belly band this week. However, my belly is still not that typical hard round thing you think of when you picture a pregnant woman. It’s just a large, slightly better shaped ball of squish… except towards the bottom, where you mostly reside… there it feels a bit firmer.

But other than that, I feel pretty good! Pretty much the same as the last few weeks. Last week I took the glucose test to check for gestational diabetes, but never heard anything back. However, generally the doctor doesn’t call unless the results are bad… so I’m going to assume no news is good news in that department. My monthly check-up is next week, so I’m sure I’ll get the “official” results at that point.

One symptom you hear a lot about for pregnant women is crazy, vivid dreams. Honestly I hadn’t thought much of this since I’ve always had crazy vivid dreams, but I find that I’m remembering them more often. Just this past weekend I had the weirdest dream where we had just brought you home and I was changing your diaper with Grandma & Papa watching me like a hawk. I opened the diaper and there was shredded cheese inside. LOL. But it was clear to me that it wasn’t something that had come from you, it was like someone had put shredded cheese on you instead of baby powder or whatever when the diaper went on initially. So of course I was like “what the heck is this?” and Grandma goes “oh, she hasn’t gone yet” (you were a girl in this dream)… the next thing I know, you decide it’s time to go while the diaper is still off & there’s pee and poop spewing everywhere! I got all kind of flustered & embarrassed that I was looking like such an idiot in front of my parents. Then I managed to get the diaper changed and tried to breastfeed you, but that wasn’t going well either. Overall I think it was a dream expressing my anxieties surrounding my ability (or lack thereof) to care for a newborn. Totally normal feelings I think, but man that dream was crazy!

Anyway, Grandma & Papa actually did come to visit this past weekend (perhaps that’s what prompted the dream?). Dad & Papa spent Saturday installing ceiling fans in both the spare bedrooms (one of which is now your nursery). It was a dirty job since there weren’t ceiling fan hookups in there before, which meant Dad had to spent a lot of time in our dusty & gross attic. Poor Dad! But the results were worth it:

So much easier to just be able to flip on a light when you walk in the room! And as you can see, pretty much all your furniture has been set up. All that’s left is to do the actual decorating, but I’m waiting on that until we find out whether you’re a boy or a girl. 🙂 Actually that is just a couple weeks away now! The count down is on, haha. Well I suppose that is enough for now. Until next time little onion!

All my love,